An alternative to university. Would this work for some?

(28 Posts)
grovel Sun 13-Jan-13 17:53:32

My DH thinks there could be an alternative to university which gives bright school leavers:

A "Gap Year" overseas experience
A year to mature before going into the workplace
A year away from home (for most) in a university-like environment
Training in stuff which is useful to most employers

His target market would be school leavers with As and Bs at A Level who are not obsessed by the need for further academic learning, don't want to clock up £40k in debt but feel that they've got to go to university to get a worthwhile career. They also want to sample a student life for a while.

Students would do 3 months abroad doing voluntary work. They would then have two terms learning the basics of personal finance, what company accounts mean, employment law, the functions within a company etc.

They would also be trained in public speaking, Microsoft Office, memo writing, data analysis etc.

He reckons it's doable for £12k and that employers would love the "product" (and would supply the bulk of the trainers). The "institute" would be set up in a university town so that the students got a broader experience of university life.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 17-Jan-13 22:45:48

I think that most of what would be offered here would already or could already be experienced and taught by the parents themselves. Parents with 12k to spare could offer this surely.

givemeaclue Thu 17-Jan-13 18:42:52

To be honest it looks a bit basic, voluntary work combined with what employers expect school leavers to have anyway ie Microsoft office, public speaking etc. It doesn't look "top notch". Top flight school leavers will already have those skills. It's not a qualification in any way. I would re think, would rather put the £10k to uni fees

breadandbutterfly Thu 17-Jan-13 17:25:30

I think better to incorporate this stuff at school in PACE etc. no need to spend a year or 12k on it.

As an employer i wouldn't value it either. Too general. Mot jobs require specific skills.

Pyrrah Wed 16-Jan-13 17:02:37

Good grief, when did parents start funding gap years? I thought that the whole point was that they were self-funded... ie you worked for 6 months stacking shelves etc to fund 3 months looking after orphans.

grovel Sun 13-Jan-13 23:13:44

IDK, thanks. Your comments are interesting and thought-provoking.

IDK Sun 13-Jan-13 22:13:56

I think that your biggest problem will be vested interests

Universities: they won't want to lose their revenue stream students

Hiring managers: they will want to retain the cachet of the route that they themselves took a few years' earlier. They will recruit People Like Them. They will only consider it if the company gets a share of the saving of 9% graduate tax - which means that employees from the scheme will be seen as cut price and therefore second rate.

oldebaglady Sun 13-Jan-13 21:02:29

it all sounds like things you could easily organise yourself for much less in a gap year or when going back into the work place
In preparation for going back into the workplace I'm doing voluntary work plus college courses which cost about £200 each (as I don't get any funding due to income + having a degree already, but most pay less) and are recognised or form part of a recognised qualification. I have also done a lot of free training days through volunteering.

I don't think anyone that is bright enough would need someone to organise this for them, and it wouldn't be as targetted as the DIY way either! so more expensive and less valuable.

Portofino Sun 13-Jan-13 20:56:45

Big companies, banks and major retailers USED to offer their own training schemes to a'level students. I would very much like to see a return to that. I had school friends who went say to Natwest or M&S and learnt the job from the bottom up. You don't NEED to go to Uni for these jobs. You need to spend 6 months per "department" or whatever learning what goes on.

slipshodsibyl Sun 13-Jan-13 20:49:48

Parents apparently spend an average of 10 000 pounds on their children's gap year (or so I read recently), so the money isn't out of the way, considering they would gain some life skills and travel experience . I would have thought that with some tweaking and thought, the idea might have takers from a fairly large demographic. It does sound a bit like a finishing school for the 21st century.

I am impressed by the youthful drive and capabilities of some people who post on here but having taught Sixth Formers for a number of years in the past and knowing many now my own children are that kind of age, the planning of gap years can be quite hard for people of 17/18 who only have so much knowledge and experience. It doesn't necessarily mean they are immature (or no more immature than they might be expected to be at 18) or unemployable. Many interesting work or internship opportunities are now available only to graduates or those already at university.

Having lived in countries on several continents and seen things go wrong in small and more serious ways for adults who live or travel in places where standards of safety differ from ours, which never seem to be reported or widely known about, I am slightly wary of independent travel for teenagers of this age

Another advantage is that there would be some cohesion as it would be a package. My DD is on a gap year and has done an internship and a 2 month stint in a language school, but it is hard to dovetail activities into each other so she has an awkward length break before another internship and a further course from early Summer. She is lucky to have a waitressing job and can live with family in an area that has year round visitors, unlike many her age who cannot find work. She cannot use us as a base as we are expat in a place which offers little for her.

Grovel, you kindly answered a question I posted recently about gap years and if something like this was available I would definitely look at it with my children. Might it be something that could be bought into as modules for a term or two even?

expatinscotland Sun 13-Jan-13 20:27:25

In the US, they've been paying fees for a long time. It's quite common, as a result, for people to delay university and: spend time in the military, join the Peace Corps/VSO, work (and/or combine university with full-time work. Admittedly, however, many, many more universities with great reputations are set up to cater to those who have to combine studying with work), travel abroad.

Because uni and vocational training are fee-paying, too, there's no age limit on things the way there is here. You see incredibly fit, healthy people doing major career shifts in their 40s and 50s (they are used to the idea that many people will be unable to retire at all or not until their 70s) and no one bats an eyelid (I knew 40-somethings so fit they could run circles round many 20-somethings and who quit office careers to become sparks, tilers, air-conditioning repair people, etc. without a hitch). I worked for a GYN surgeon who became a lawyer in his 50s and a lawyer who become a social worker in her late 40s.

We will hopefully see a similar shift here, because it's not really a good thing to have every school leaver go directly to uni.

trashcansinatra Sun 13-Jan-13 20:13:27

speaking as a (public sector) employer, there isn't anything in the proposal that sets them much apart from any other school leaver with some decent extra curricular experience. They would still need to come in at apprentice level, and the two terms of seemingly useful stuff but actually unlikely to be all that helpful doesn't compensate for the vocational skills and experience that they will actually need.

However, to be more positive, one of the things we struggle with is school leavers and graduate who have good leadership, decision making and practical experience. This idea, especially the voluntary stuff if managed well, should give them good evidence that any large organisation would look for, though they may also need to go onto get a more formal qualification before applying.

Incidentally, for school leavers nervous about the costs of university, there are some excellent apprenticeships now, especially Higher apprenticeships that lead to a Foundation Degree. They are not all about the crafts like electricians, heavy engineering and hairdressing nowadays - some are computer science, information security or science.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 13-Jan-13 20:10:30

I think if young person is able to afford 12k they will be able to afford uni. He should market it to private schools as an organised gap year BEFORE university.

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 19:59:40

or, apparently, fund their own staff to be trained...

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 19:59:20

Or attach proper jobs to the end of the training... that would be appealing!... Like an apprenticeship for all those employers who don't want to train their own staff...

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 19:56:52

If I wanted to prove I was capable of going to university but had actively chosen not to, I would probably want to prove I could organise my own voluntary work and teach myself all the sorts of things mentioned in the training bit by myself. If I didn't come from the sort of background where I felt capable of doing that, then I'd probably be scared off by the £12k price tag, even if it were in the form of a loan - particularly if not even a government backed loan. Obviously, any such year would have to be accredited in some way to give you recognised student status. And I wouldn't want to go for the course if it were advertised as a course for people too immature to enter the job market, yet, who wanted the fun of university without having to do 3 years of academic study! Maybe a bit more fleshing out of the "training" bit would be useful - to make it sound a bit more meaty and impressive to future employers, rather than a year for the currently unemployable!!

IDK Sun 13-Jan-13 19:28:59

I don't see why he says it should be offered to high achievers.

Because of attitudes like rabbitstew's. It needs to be presented as being available to those who could go to prestigious universities if they wanted - but who realise that it is not a good investment for them - not a finishing school for the NiceButDim.
It is daft that pupils have to worm way onto UG courses by pretending that they have a passion <boak> for academic study because we don't need that many academics! Much better to learn management - which, as a country, we are appalling at - and leave universities to their proper purpose.

LaCiccolina Sun 13-Jan-13 19:10:17

All large employers like Deloitte and those above outsource their training. I know as I used to be in that industry! Its very rare to in house ur training.

LaCiccolina Sun 13-Jan-13 19:08:11

U need to include professional / emotional intelligence type training here. Dressing for success, presenting, public speaking, time keeping all those types of bite sized stuff. Some of that could be done via pod casts as 'homework'.

It sounds good but needs to be worked out as are they sent as a class? So they are also networking or apprentice type and singular? I don't think I understood that. And obvs funding will be key....

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 19:07:33

Sorry, that sounded a bit rude! blush

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 18:41:59

Still, I suppose it makes a better finishing school for the currently too immature to be employable but with £12,000 to spare, than many other options.

rabbitstew Sun 13-Jan-13 18:39:34

Presumably this wouldn't be a course for people capable of being employed by the likes of M&S, Deloitte and Barclays? Because I would assume large employers should be more than capable of providing such training for their employees, themselves (and should be castigated for outsourcing it, imo...), and wouldn't be hugely impressed by a prospective employee having forked out £12,000 for someone else to have organised voluntary work for them, rather than having organised it for themselves... or would someone other than the student be stumping up the £12,000 fees?

IDK Sun 13-Jan-13 18:28:23

How does the accomodation work? If they do a gap term then two terms in residence then your real estate is not being fully used all year, unless you do a rolling programme of three admissions dates per year.

grovel Sun 13-Jan-13 18:20:48

Funding would have to be with loans (as university students). Maybe not from government.

Incidentally I am flying a kite here. I thought MN would give interesting feedback to an idea which is decidedly under-developed.

grovel Sun 13-Jan-13 18:13:54

£12k includes accommodation and food.

There would have to be a recognised qualification, I agree. My DH is of the view that if he could it accredited by M&S, Deloitte, Barclays etc then it would be more widely respected.

IDK Sun 13-Jan-13 18:09:52

employers would love the "product"

There's the rub.
DS fits your demographic. He feels that he has no choice but to go to University because his target employers demand graduates.

I hope that your DH realises that his "product" is not the useful employees he produces but the certificate they are awarded.

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